MooRocco and Crew at the 1999 Tour De Sol

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Club News

Check out our new Tour De Sol 2000 Pictures, now online!

VTC MooRocco Team Thanks You!

The VTC Solar Car Club extends it's deepest and heartiest gratitude to all the people who showed their support during this year's Tour De Sol. We have so many people to thank, we don't know where to begin! Thanks.

Team MooRocco Receives Bradford Blue Sky Award

Friday, May 19, 2000 1:08:04 PM- More success for the VTC MooRocco team at the Tour De Sol Awards Ceremony. We received the first place award for good sportsmanship. The team was recognized for our contributions to U. Maine, positive attitude, presentation to an area H.S. during the tour, and technical assistance to the charging officials. We are very psyched! Our friends at U. Maine arrived 1st place in the solar electric category.

We are planning to go to the Smithsonian today...

MooRocco Part of National Press Conference

Friday, May 19, 2000 8:26:30 AM- Yesterday was an amazing day for the team in Washington D.C.! We arrived around 11:00 AM, and from there it was fast-paced action. Senator Leahy's Legislative Assistant found us upon our arrival and asked us to have a photo shoot with Leahy at the Capitol Building, at 2:00. Bernie Sanders had invited us to a private meeting in his office at the Rayburn Building at 11:30am. He and the club had a very good interaction regarding the roadblocks to alternatively fueled vehicles. Sanders is, of course, very progressive in the alternatively fueled vehicle department, and was able to get a lot of helpful info from us. He was also very interested to hear the club's story. We got several photos taken.

The whole time we were getting there, Jeff and I were on the phone with the Legislative Assistant for Jim Jeffords, discussing the details of our later in the afternoon appointments.

We had to first pick up a special plate that would allow the MooRocco to drive onto the Capitol Building property... Then we picked up Senator Leahy and he drove it around a little. Lots of cameras... TV, newspapers, etc. Then Jim Jeffords came out and they both went out in the car (Jeffords drove)!

After, we took part in a press conference in the "Senator Swamp" to introduce a Jeffords-Hatch alternative fuels initiative bill. The bill offers various subsidies and tax credits for manufacturers, owners, and refueling stations for alternatively fueled vehicles. Jeffords made special mention of the club, and how we were able to create the MooRocco and its many high-tech developments on a "shoe-string budget." Many important people came over and congratulated us on our efforts.

After an exhausting day, we went to a hotel for some R&R... Awards ceremony on Friday!

Team MooRocco to Have Special Photo-Op with Senator Jeffords

Wednesday, May 17, 2000 8:59:17 PM- This morning, the team received word that we have been invited by Senator James Jeffords to help him propose a bill for tax credits for alternatively-fueled vehicles. Among other publicity, the team and car will have a photo opportunity on the east side steps of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.! The event will occur Thursday at 2:15pm. We are unsure of any further details at the time of this writing.

Highlights Today-

  • Happy 21st B-Day Jeff Laughlin!
  • Made morning leg (70 miles) and coasted in with zero power remaining. Didn't have to tow though!
  • "Salad Bowl Charger" (see pictures) contributes to charge before autocross
  • Autocross- 36.5 seconds (Not a bad time!)
  • 1/4 mile accel. test- Flat battery. (Pretty bad.)

    Yesterday was "range" day. That's the day where we drive the cars as far as they can go on a charge. We did the regular leg from West Windsor, NJ to Chesapeake City, MD. Then we did laps until the batteries died. We came in at 85 miles total, breaking our previous range record of 70 miles!

    We used so much power that there wasn't enough time during the charging period to completely recharge for today's 70 mile leg. Nonetheless, we literally coasted into Sandy Point State Park (MD) today. This would prove to be a more serious problem today when we needed to get a quick (1 hour) charge after the 70 mile morning leg- today being AUTOCROSS day. Autocross entails a 1/4 mile acceleration test and a tight, high speed cone course that the vehicles have to maneuver through. So...

    This is really cool- Last night, in a think-tank discussion at a fast food place, we developed a design for a special charger that would charge the car REALLY fast. We went to the store and bought several household items (switches, salad bowls, colanders, a fan, etc.) and concocted a sizable contraption looking like something out of a science fiction movie. (Pictures will be posted later).

    Other things that happened:

  • Special MooRocco Presentation given at area High School (extra credit for Tour points)
  • Completion of "Mini-Moo" project (radio controlled miniature replica of MooRocco

    Travis' acronymnal summary of the Tour De Sol:
    Out of

    Deluged with

    S ?
    O ? What could these stand for?
    L ?

    An Uneventful (yey!) Day for VTC

    5/15/00 7:56:02 PM- Sorry it took so long to get you these updates... I've been writing them, but my cellular has been lost, dead, and/or without sufficient coverage for the past 2 days... We do our best.

    Besides an age-old mysterious problem with inefficiency, the car is doing really well. The transmission was quiet all day today. We got our Tech Testing standings back from the scoring committee. We weren't particularly impressed with our scores in acceleration, but that's because we had to use the old controller. We did score big points on consumer acceptability. Hopefully we will get a chance to prove ourselves with the new controller on Wednesday, when we do autocross and drag race.

    The weather continues to be awesome. We have had time to relax, laugh, and enjoy the event... Going to do some work on the car, and camp out tonight. Bill is helping the U of Maine team some more, and we are setting up camp. Tommorrow is range day. 70 mile run, and then laps until you die... We don't know how we'll do, because we haven't run out yet. It will be interesting to see how we do. What we do know is that things are better- Last year, the car couldn't go beyond 46 miles. This year, we've made 55 mile runs with power to spare.

    Tech Testing Passed, Race Begins

    Monday, May 15, 2000 12:07:37 AM- First off, happy Mother's Day to all those Tour De Sol Moms! As usual, what I have time to write doesn't do justice to describe the day, but here's what's happened...

    We replaced the rear brake pads and managed to get through Tech Testing. We qualified for the race, albeit with a lousy pole position, due to the old controller. The Beta Team showed up around 9pm and we brought everyone up to speed on what had happened.

    Things were going so well for us, we had time to help out others, such as the University of Maine (the Solar Blackbear). The team is a friend of VTC's, although it is composed of completly different people this year.

    After the opening ceremonies, and various TV interviews, we made the first leg of the trip from NYC to West Windsor, NJ. We made it, although we have a few problems to investigate. The transmission was making a lot of noise the whole time, and we seemed to use a lot more power than we ought to have. The transmission appeared to be VERY low on fluid, so we replenished it. We will watch it closely tommorrow.

    The U of Main team took VTC out for Chinese Dinner tonight, as a token of their appreciation for helping them!

    This morning, we put the borrowed controller in the car in time to make the first leg with it. It helped a lot, gave the necessary 'pep' in City driving :)

    We heard that there are some cool live resources available on the Web for the Tour... Current scores, and graphical locations (from GPS) of the Tour at any moment. Get to it from the NESEA website,

    Day "Zero" Tech Testing And City Driving

    Saturday, May 13, 2000 12:25:28 AM- A lot happened today. Too much to really detail here, but here are the highlights:

    Stationary Tech Testing- These are the tests that don't involve motion. MooRocco passed all but the emergency brake hold test. We attempted to fix it, but it will still need work and probably parts before we will pass. Trying again tommorrow.

    Ceremonies- A nice ceremony was dedicated to the memory of George Bradford (a friend and Tour Official, without whom VTC might not have entered the Tour last year)

    City Life Adjustment- Later in the day, we left the comfortable confines of the Science Park, and headed to the much more stereotypical NYC environment of Manhatten. We are currently, and will be for the next two days, located underneath the Brooklyn Bridge.

    Scott and Jay drove the car through the heart of Manhatten, to South Street Park. Almost made it to the new location without a problem, got lost at the end and drove around for a long time.

    "No, it wasn't 'lost'- we were touring," -Jay Orzell.

    The car performed beautifully, and driving skills were sharpened. Things we've learned as a result of today's experiences:

  • Things are not that bad if you keep a good attitude. (but converse is true)
  • New York City is a lot different than Vermont.
  • NYC Hotels are not much better than sleeping in the car. In fact, it's very competitive.

    Past News

    MooRocco Back Online, Alpha Team Arrives in NYC Okay

    Friday, May 12, 2000 5:59:22 AM- Despite the series of disheartening events, The MooRocco rolled onto the dolly under its own power around 8pm Thursday night. After a lengthy (as is typical) packing process, the "Alpha" team departed around 10:30pm and arrived in Queens around 4:00am. It was a smooth, uneventful trip, with little traffic... One advantage to leaving as late in the evening as we did.

    We have about 40% of the amount of stuff that we brought last year in the van... Much easier to work. Lots of good cellular coverage, everything seems to be going well. The weather might even hold out enough for us to do some work on the car today, before Tech Testing.

    A phone call to KTA revealed that a new controller is not in stock. But after learning of our situation, Ken Koch is going to send us his personal controller overnight! KTA is great!

    The old Curtis will get us through Tech Testing, if necessary.

    Oh yeah, starting Saturday if you need to contact a Team member, you can contact our liason, Sarah Urie at the VTC campus. Her # is 802-728-xxxx, or you can email her at
    More later!

    Controller Fails in Evening Test Run

    Thursday, May 11, 2000- During a final test run late last night in Randolph, The Auburn Scientific Controller in the MooRocco experienced a critical failure. Fortunately, there was no significant damage to the rest of the car, but we may have to run the race with the old, wimpy Curtis controller. The AS controller is covered under warranty, but we probably will not be able to exchange it in time for the Tour De Sol.

    "The most important thing is that we don't treat this
    as a crisis"
    -Bill McGrath

    We are currently in the process of leaving messages for various suppliers who may be able to help us out.

    In the mean time, "The most important thing as that we don't treat this as a crisis," offered Bill McGrath. "The worst impact it can have is if we let it distract our other preparations."

    Less than 2 weeks left!

    Friday, May 05, 2000- With less than two weeks to go until the 2000 Northeastern Sustainable Energy Association's Tour De Sol, the challenge has already begun as we make the final adjustments and additions in preparation. Among the many things that need to be done to make the car Post 1999 Tour Photo

    race-ready are some improvements that will give the MooRocco an edge in the race. This year, the car features higher performance Trojan T-145 batteries, as well as a brand-new Auburn Scientific Kodiak C600 600 amp controller! We've installed and mounted the new controller, and it sure adds some pep to the car. We've also dropped the rear battery box down between the rear axles for a lower center of gravity and more storage.

  • Last Modified: Wednesday, May 31, 2000 by Scott McGrath